The United States Treasury Department announced last week that Madison-based Forward Community Investments (FCI) received an allocation of $35 million in New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) to encourage investment in projects that improve the economic well-being of distressed communities across Wisconsin.
“The competition for these credits is fierce,” said FCI president Salli Martyniak, noting that credits are only offered to about half of the organizations that apply. “We are up against major banks, the largest financial institutions, and for the third year in a row we won out. This is validation for all the great community development work that’s happening here in Wisconsin, and we can’t wait to put this money to work.”
FCI has earned $20 million New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) in each of the last two years. The NMTC were used to leverage investments in projects like the 21,000 square foot, $6.2 million whole health clinic currently under construction for special needs patients of the Milwaukee Center for Independence in West Allis.
“The NMTC will have a wide ranging impact on projects that will lead to revitalizing communities and creating jobs,” said Carla Cross, president and CEO of workforce diversity consulting firm Cross Management Services. Cross also serves on the NMTC advisory board for FCI, helping advise on which projects qualify for the credits.
She said FCI earned the credits in part because of their unique approach to community development. “They’re innovative in the way they structure their deals and the type of deals they attract,” Cross said. “What’s also unique is that they work with mission-based organizations – nonprofits as well as for-profits – that are engaged in community development.”
This year FCI is one of 120 financial institutions and organizations to receive tax credits, including only three in Wisconsin.
Created by Congress in 2000, the NMTC program attracts capital to low income communities by providing private investors with a federal tax credit for investments made in businesses or economic development projects located in some of the most distressed communities in the nation – census tracts where the individual poverty rate is at least 20 percent or where median family income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median.
Between 2003 and 2014, $38 billion in direct NMTC investments were made in businesses and these NMTC investments leveraged nearly $75 billion in total capital investment to businesses and revitalization projects in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment. It’s estimated that these projects created 750,000 jobs.